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Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Karl Samuda, has emphasized that it is extremely important for all entrepreneurs to become a part of the formal economy, as the country could not thrive if almost half of businesses are outside the formal structure.
Addressing a Speaker’s Forum at the Technology Innovation Centre, at the University of Technology (UTech), yesterday (March 19), the Minister said this had implications for the country’s revenues, and “our ability to underwrite the services that are necessary to benefit the very people who are now outside the formal economy.”
“It is vitally important that all entrepreneurs, small, medium and large, become a part of the formal economy,” the Minister urged.
Mr. Samuda argued that the country could not continue to operate on the basis where businesses are reluctant to be registered in the formal sector.”By being a part of the formal economy, they will benefit from training, technical support, soft loans, marketing .all the things that drive the involvement of government and the private sector,” he said, citing the Private Sector Development Programme as one such initiative that incorporated those important components.
This programme is funded by the European Union in the sum of $29 million euros, which Mr. Samuda said, has served to significantly enhance the level of competitiveness of firms, as well as strengthen their support and representative organisations.
“So, it’s not just the individual firms that have benefited from this programme, but the organizations that serve the individual firms, such as the small business association.These are the opportunities that will exist for companies that choose voluntarily to come into the formal sector,” the Minister said.
Mr. Samuda pointed out that there are ways to ensure that all businesses are formalized, and that such measures have successfully been implemented in other countries that have been faced with this difficulty.
“This government will not hesitate to introduce measures – not draconian – and common sense approaches to ensure that the base from which the government gets its revenues, applies across the board and not just to a minority of people who are in the formal system,” the Minister said.
Mr. Samuda stressed that the focus now should be on measures that could move the economy forward, by formalizing businesses outside of the formal structure.